The Browders were named the "Breakthrough Artist of the Year" at the Absolutely Gospel Music Awards in 2013. This family group consists of Tommy Browder, his sons Matthew and David, Matthew's wife Sonya and Sonya's brother Burton.
I got the chance to see the Browders for the first time last year in Branson, and was immediately impressed with this great family group!
Sonya Browder was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me. Get to know the Browders a little better!
Question: Did you grow up with a strong southern gospel influence? When did you first become interested in southern gospel?
Sonya Browder: I'm originally from the state of Maine so, for obvious reasons, Southern Gospel was not as familiar to me growing up as it was to the rest of The Browders! When I was a little girl, Ernie Haase came to our church to do special music for revival services with an evangelist from his home area in Ohio. That summer he was the musical guest at our youth camp and he asked me to sing a song with him one night. Soon after, he joined the Cathedrals and called to tell us he had bought tickets for us to see them in Bangor, Maine, at a sold out concert. I left that night in awe of the music and what I now know was the awesome presence of God. I remember thinking, "If I could just do that someday..."
Q: How did you get started singing and traveling as a family?
Sonya: The Browders have been on the road as a family since 1990. Matthew and David were just young boys at the time and they travelled mostly within their local area and surrounding states. It's been in the last few years that the ministry has really expanded.
I personally started singing and playing piano full-time when I was 15 for a group that travelled mostly around New England. I was with them for 10 years until Matthew and I married in 2005 and I joined The Browders.
Q: What's the one thing that you want people who walk away from your concerts to know about the Browders?
Sonya: Without a doubt, the most important thing a person can take away from our concerts is that we serve a great God who is available to anyone who calls upon Him. We truly want to point people to Jesus. If they forget about us, that's no big deal; but if the Holy Spirit can minister to someone's life through us and change them for eternity, now that's something to remember.
Q: Do you have a favorite song that you sing? And what song from another group has ministered to you?
Sonya: I can't say that I have a particular song that is a favorite of mine to sing; I love so many of them for different reasons. Without a doubt, though, Karen Peck's "My God Will Always Be Enough" has affected me more than any song I can think of in recent years. If you haven't heard it, you absolutely need to check it out. It's an incredible song by an incredibly anointed woman of God.
Q: What artists have been your biggest influence (musically and/or personally)?
Sonya: As I mentioned earlier, The Cathedrals were my first influence and I was a huge fan from that time on.
The Browders are big Hinsons fans, as well as Teddy Huffam & the Gems and Happy Goodmans. More recently, we have appreciated the Crabb Family for their anointing, songwriting and originality.
The people in our industry who have, in my opinion, been the most supportive of us and extended a hand of friendship to us, have been Jeff & Sheri Easter. Last summer, we were scheduled to sing at Silver Dollar City on a Monday for their Southern Gospel Picnic. Jeff & Sheri called and asked us to come in a day early and sing a song on their set the night before to a crowd of around 6000 people at Echo Hollow. They absolutely did not have to do that, but I believe that it is their willingness to include and support others that has caused them to be so blessed. They share Godly counsel when called upon and Jeff has even worked on our bus a time or two!
Q: What has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry? Do you have a certain concert that stands out?
It would be hard to pick an absolute favorite, but there was a recent occurrence regarding our current single, "He is Alive", that we won't soon forget. Before we even recorded the song, we "tried it out" on an audience in Ohio. When the concert was over, a pastor and his wife came to our table. He said that his wife had been unable to hear out of her right ear for many years, and during that song, she leaned over and told him that all of a sudden she could hear in that ear! God miraculously touched her that night while she was just sitting in her chair! We had never seen anything quite like that!
Q: What new things are coming up for the Browders?
Sonya: For the last year, we have been working on a new recording, pouring our hearts and souls into everything from the song-writing to the production and creativity of this project. "Time Machine" is the follow-up to our "The Message" recording, which yielded our first #1 song for a total of three on that record, and an additional seven top ten songs, a fact which both amazes and humbles us that God would bless us in such a way. So when it came time for this record, we applied even more attention to detail than we did the last one, because we believe that whatever our hands find to do, we should with all our might and heartily as unto the Lord (Ecc. 9:10; Col. 3:23)! It will be available August 6 on iTunes, our web site and in Christian bookstores.
Also, we just signed a recording contract with Daywind, so we are very much looking forward to what lies ahead as we work together with them.
Be sure to check out more on the Browders at their website - http://www.thebrowders.com/. And also check out their new project Time Machine that releases tomorrow!